Blog: Make your own yogurt – it’s easy!

I have a hoarding problem when it comes to disposable containers. There is just something in my soul that won’t let me put a perfectly good (potentially reusable) container into the recycling bin. My cupboards are lined with glass jars that once contained jelly, salsa, and spaghetti sauce. But, the biggest culprits are those 2lb plastic yogurt containers. My youngest child eats yogurt every day, so you can imagine how many of those containers were starting to pile up. It was even beginning to affect my family’s sanity due to the daily guessing game they had to go through to disseminate between what were leftovers and what was actual yogurt. I had to make a change. Continue reading “Blog: Make your own yogurt – it’s easy!”

Increase your home’s energy efficiency by addressing these areas

Your home is your castle, but if that castle is drafty and inefficient, your energy usage could be much more than you thought — not to mention the extra money you are wasting trying to heat and cool your living space.

Increasing the energy efficiency of your home, so that it is not consuming more gas or electricity than it needs to, can also help reduce negative impacts on the environment.

“Almost every home (unless it is newer and built to be high-performance) could be more efficient and benefit from an energy audit and energy-efficient upgrades,” said Elizabeth Sanfelippo, energy consultant, HERS Rater, LEED Green Associate, BPI Certified Infiltration and Duct Leakage Professional, and vice president of Operations for Eco Three. Continue reading “Increase your home’s energy efficiency by addressing these areas”

Blog: How to make bone broth in an Instant Pot

Bones, vegetable matter, herbs, salt, and apple cider vinegar make up the essence of bone broth.

Part of living a sustainable lifestyle includes using (and reusing) as much as you can, and food is no exception.

At our house, we decrease food waste by saving raw vegetable “throw-aways,” such as onion tops, carrot peels, celery stalks, etc., and meat bones. We use those leftover bones and vegetable matter to make bone broth. I store the bones and veggies in bags in the freezer until ready to use. And, while bone broth is currently having its moment in the sun in the world of foodies and health gurus, its use is nothing new.

The nourishing liquid has been around since people started throwing bones into pots to stretch meals “just a little bit farther.” Even my almost 90-year-old grandmother-in-law told me that bone broth was nothing new to her (after I suggested she make some to help the healing process when she had a broken bone).

And, making bone broth is easy — as easy as throwing ingredients in a pot for a day. Plus, when you make bone broth vs. buying it in the store, you can guarantee freshness and ingredient sources. You can make and use bone broth in a day, or you can prepare it now and freeze, or can, for future use. I use an Instant Pot to make my bone broth, but you can use a regular stockpot (just add in a bunch more hours of cooking time).

Check out the steps below to make bone broth in an Instant Pot or other pressure cooker. Continue reading “Blog: How to make bone broth in an Instant Pot”

Plastic usage is impacting our food, water systems… It’s time to make changes

Single use plastic bottles.

If you like eating plastic, you can stop reading now. On the off chance that you are concerned about consuming plastics, or the chemicals they could be leaching into your food and drinking water, read on.

Plastic waste has been a problem for years. If you need evidence of that, do a quick internet search on the Great Pacific garbage patch, or even better, take a walk along a local river or ocean beach. Most likely you will see some sort of plastic trash along your journey. But, not all plastic pollution is easy to see, and not all of it is as simple to remove as plucking a flower.

Our lives are enmeshed with plastics — from the computer or phone you are most likely reading this on to the toys your children play with to the containers your food comes in. It’s literally everywhere, and it’s even becoming a part of our food system.

“Ultimately, now, we are seeing the fish that we like to catch and eat have microplastics in them,” said Patrick Schwing, research associate at the University of South Florida and adjunct professor at Eckerd College. “The things that we have produced and thrown away are now ending up on our dinner plates, so that is a direct impact on how plastics affect the environment.”
Continue reading “Plastic usage is impacting our food, water systems… It’s time to make changes”

North Carolina agrihood seeks to redefine community living

Rick Bagel, managing partner of Wetrock Resources, LLC, holds the plans to Wetrock Farm.

In the small, rural community of Bahama just north of Durham, N.C., a freshly paved road winds through the middle of two pastoral fields filled with wildflowers, past a burgeoning orchard, and into the middle of a clearing surrounded by a lush green forest. This road is the beginning of a first for the area — an agrihood.

What was once a working farm and then a hunting club, the land is being transformed once more to create a sustainable community where local food is at the center. This is where the agrihood, Wetrock Farm, is growing from the ground up. Continue reading “North Carolina agrihood seeks to redefine community living”

Kava bars meet demand for social outings without the alcohol

Kava artwork. Photo courtesy of Matthew Clark.

Kava bars are popping up across the U.S. to meet the demand of people looking for alternative, healthy avenues to the traditional bar setting. A healthy lifestyle naturally lends itself to less alcohol consumption, and kava bars have found a niche among those interested in gathering socially in a “bar type” atmosphere, but that don’t want the side effects that can come from boozy drinks.

But, what exactly is kava, what does it do, who should drink it, and why would anyone want to visit a bar strictly dedicated to the plant?

Matthew Clark, owner of Ohana Kava Bar in Colorado Springs, Colo., spoke with The almost Natural Mama about all of this and more.

Continue reading “Kava bars meet demand for social outings without the alcohol”

Moms — self-care is important, take your moments!

Becoming a mother is a truly a unique gift. The love that is exchanged between a parent and child is unparalleled to anything else. But, even with that unconditional love present, it’s easy to get overwhelmed with the amount of care and time it takes to raise children, especially when they are very young. Putting your children first is only natural, but neglecting to take moments for yourself won’t do anyone in your family good in the long run.

“It’s important for mothers to pay attention to their own well-being because everything that the mother is feeling affects her family,” said Natalie Sager, meditation and yoga teacher, holistic health consultant, and proprietor of The Modern Hippie Mama. “Her well-being has a ripple effect on everyone else in the family, which also ripples out into the world.” Continue reading “Moms — self-care is important, take your moments!”

Make plantain and marshmallow your go-to for natural sunburn relief

Too much sun can happen. It can happen unintentionally after a day of play outside, or simply because you forgot to reapply that second round of sunscreen after swimming. Whatever brought you to that moment when “too much” hits, you don’t have to suffer without help — there are plenty of natural options to help alleviate the pain of sunburn. And, while aloe also helps, isn’t the answer here.

Spring broadleaf plantain growing in North Carolina.

Chelsea Farley, who studied Western Herbalism at the California School of Herbal Studies, said that broadleaf plantain and marshmallow root is a good choice to relieve sunburn naturally.

“I make body wraps soaked in a cold plantain leaf and marshmallow root tea,” said Farley. After you get the wraps nice and wet, apply directly to skin for a cooling and healing effect. Repeat as needed, but you should start to notice relief rather quickly, she said.

You can also make a plantain and marshmallow infused honey to apply directly to your skin. “It’s sticky, but it works,” said Farley.

This plantain is not that large banana you fry up for a delicious snack, but a common backyard or roadside weed (depending on what part of the country you live in). It is known for its anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties, and has also been purported to relieve the itchy/burning sensation one experiences with a reaction to poison ivy.

If you can’t find plantain lurking about in nature, you can usually find it in the bulk herb section of your local health food store.

Marshmallow Root, another common herb found on health food store shelves, commonly shows up alongside other ingredients in teas for cold and mucous relief. But, that relief isn’t limited internally; its inflammation reducing properties can be transferred to the skin as well.

Organic Farming

Farmer sees beyond organic to increase food nutrient density, sustainability

“We are what we eat” is an old adage that is true more today than ever before. Highly processed foods and chemical additives are being looked at in a whole new light as scientists are proving links between obesity and their consumption. There is also a large debate going on across the globe as to the safety of utilizing synthetic fertilizers.

With all of the information available — both transparent and hidden — it’s easy to get overwhelmed with what is “right” and what is “wrong” in food choices. The biggest things people need to understand are: 1) that not all foods are created equal, and 2) the way food is grown does have an impact on the sustainability of health and the environment.

Continue reading “Organic Farming”

Why The almost Natural Mama?

People define living naturally in a plethora of ways. For some people, it may be living off-the-grid in a solar powered home, for others, it may mean choosing to eat organic food over conventional food. For me, it is the pursuit of making healthy, informed choices for my family, lessening my impact on the environment, and helping to create a happy, sustainable home. Continue reading “Why The almost Natural Mama?”